Give priority to apparatus performing essential fireground tasks
Yorkfield Fire Protection District
Reference is made to “A Fading Art” (Editor`s Opinion, July 1998) and “Good Communications Vital to Fireground Survival,” by Rick Lasky (July 1998). I do not agree or disagree entirely with either. I was, however, slightly disappointed after reading them.
In Bill Manning`s editorial, he not only emphasizes getting back to the basics but also comments on the overreliance on technological gadgets that seems to be occurring in the fire service. He says, “We`ve grown so enamored of the computer chip we`ve almost forgotten how to think.” Yet Lasky says that the concept of communications at an incident is vital. I have never run a major incident or, for that matter, led more than a few firefighters at a time, but I believe that in this age of increasing technology, the IC must be able to supervise his firefighters effectively.
A photo on page 14 in the same issue depicts a large command van used by a department in Illinois. The caption says the van can “offer the IC an environment free of distractions.” This vehicle is so large and cumbersome it seems that it would be rather difficult to maneuver it on a crowded residential street surrounding a fire. Priority should be given to functional fire apparatus performing essential fireground tasks. In many cases, we have become so concerned about setting up a spectacular incident command system that we neglect basic fireground operations (providing enough personnel, truck/engine company placement, water supply, and so on).
I am familiar with this $100,000-plus vehicle. It seems to me that the money spent purchasing it along with its multiple computers, video camera, weather station, toilet, table, VCRs, and other necessary equipment could have been put to better use. The IC is so confined in this monstrous office that he can no longer see, smell, or hear the “brutal art” of structural firefighting. Although I am sure this vehicle may have its place at a large-scale extended operation, is equipment like this really needed at a single-family residential fire? Let`s get back to the basics and the “art” of firefighting. This is a dirty, hard job! It is not done inside a spotless, highly equipped van made for chief officers. Don`t forget what it is like in the trenches.